(AP / Michael Conroy)
For today’s offseason edition of the Notebook (Heavens no, not the romantic drama), we’ll discuss what Chuck Pagano said to his players, some must-read quotes from the refreshingly candid Pat McAfee, and Luck and Pagano jokingly plot to keep Bruce Arians from leaving.
The Cinderella story is over, and the 2013 Colts will carry the expectation of winning. They sound as though they’re up to the challenge. As usual, all quotes from today’s Notebook are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Must Read: Pat McAfee
Pat McAfee started out as a good, serviceable punter early in his career but then came on strong after his public intoxication embarrassment in 2010 (The Broad Ripple Canal, folks, not the nice clean Downtown Canal, the muddy one with all the ducks). McAfee issued his own heartfelt apology via Twitter instead of releasing an official statement through his agent, which may have won some people over in Indianapolis (note: the incident is only mentioned here to avoid seeing anything about it in the comments). After serving a suspension and putting the incident behind him, he went on to set a Colts franchise record the following season of 46.6 yards per punt. In 2012, he followed up his breakout year by beating his own franchise record, raising the bar to 48.2 yards per punt.
Yesterday, McAfee talked with the local media and offered his perspective on a few things, one of which was the mixed feelings players feel after the end of such an incredible season. “There’s 31 teams that are going to be disappointed after this season,” he said. “The playoffs offer you another chance to either get to the Super Bowl or be another disappointed team. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it works. After the Super Bowl, we were disappointed. After the other playoff losses that I’ve had, I was disappointed. And this year obviously I’m just as disappointed.
“But this team is so young and so promising, the coaching staff is so amazing, front office can obviously evaluate talent better than anybody else. There’s so much promise and future that whenever we look back at this in the next couple months, we’re going to be pumped for future seasons.”
They asked McAfee if he wanted to be a part of the Colts’ future, and, despite Indianapolis being the location of one of his lowest moments, he was very candid about his desire to stay. “Yeah. I mean the politically correct thing to say is that you want to be with whatever team you’re with, but it’s really true for me,” he said. “Indianapolis has become a home for me. I’ve got everything I want here, let alone a dome, kickers are huge for dome. But I love this team, I love this city, I love the citizens of this community and I enjoy being a citizen of Indianapolis, so I hope I come back. There’s such a nasty business side of it that you hire agents to handle. I’m going out stay out of it but hopefully I’ll be an Indianapolis Colts for life.”
McAfee went on to say he’s not the guy who should be doing the negotiating, even alluding to a willingness to play for the league minimum, something many players would never say aloud. “I’m one of those guys where if I was a boss and I was going to fire somebody, they would end up leaving the meeting with me giving them a raise,” said McAfee. “I’m not very cut throat. That’s not the thing that I want to do. I’d be willing to play for minimum. That’s what the agents are hired for and that’s why they get probably overpaid to be honest with you. That’s their job. I’m just supposed to sit back and make a decision at the end of the day and hopefully that decision will be that I wear a horseshoe for a lot more years.”
From the sound of it, the only thing that might keep McAfee from coming back might be if a team offered him his dream NFL job, allowing him to be first player to punt, kick off, and kick field goals and PAT’s. “Yeah, I’ve made that very clear. I want to be the first guy to do all three,” he said. He went on to say, “I’ve had an amazing mentor in Adam Vinatieri who is the greatest of all time, going to be a Hall of Famer. I also got to learn from Matt Stover. I think the time has come for a guy to do all three and I hope that I’m that guy.”
It’s not often a team, a winning team no less, has a high priority on re-signing a punter, but the Colts will likely be working to lock in the talented, fun-loving Pat McAfee, the franchise leader punting average (and a touchback machine on kickoffs), for a long time to come.
(Photo Brent Smith / Reuters)
Pagano: Rest, Then Get Back to Work, See You in April
The Colts met yesterday to talk over the season, clean out lockers, and prepare for the offseason. Chuck Pagano addressed the team before lunch, and before getting down to business, he reflected on what they were able to accomplish this season. “The message, we met this morning at 11:00 with the team,” Pagano said. “We had everybody in there. It’s basically what I said after the ballgame yesterday. You know, I’m really, really proud of this football team, this coaching staff, this organization, everybody involved with what this team was able to accomplish this year.”
Pagano told the players to rest and spend time with their families, but there was a caveat. After an unexpected 11-5 season, winning is now expected of them. No more Cinderella story. The players and coaches have a standard to maintain, and hopefully upon which to improve.
“We’ve got to raise the bar and we’ve got to raise the expectations because we know now that they’re going to be obviously much higher because of the success we had this year,” Pagano said. “That’s fine, that’s why we got into this business. That’s why we coach and that’s why we play, is to put ourselves in these types of situations to give ourselves a chance to reach our ultimate goal which is to win a World Championship and to win multiple World Championships.”
After getting some rest, Pagano told his players to, “find two or three things that you can really hone in on in the offseason to get better at. We won’t start back until the league rules allow us to which will be mid-April sometime when we start phase one.”
The players will be working out and staying in shape, but they can’t work with the coaches until spring. “They can use the facility but there’s no coaching, there’s no teaching, no field work,” Pagano said. “We can’t instruct. They can use the facility. They can use the weight room but it’s all voluntary. Just access. It’s all voluntary. They can use the facility at their own leisure but again we are not allowed to have any hands off.”
Just a Few More Quotes
Robert Mathis on being the hunted instead of the hunter so to speak, a team expected to win in 2013: “Well the element of surprise is not there anymore. People know what we’ve got and they know when they play the Colts we’re coming fighting. We come to play the game and hopefully we don’t have those 1-15 predictions from outside sources, but really all that matters is that we believe in each other and we know what we’re capable of doing.”
Andrew Luck, on where he will go when he goes home: “I don’t know (laughs). Honestly, I haven’t given it an ounce of thought. I’ve really enjoyed living here through the season. It’ll be something I will have to figure out.”
Just a quick note: The fact that Luck hasn’t even considered whether he’s going “home” to Houston, Indianapolis, West Virginia (where his parents now live), or somewhere else altogether, shows just how singular of a focus this young man has on football. For the men who do it for a living, football truly is their life.
Pagano on hearing that Andrew Luck jokingly said he would say negative things about Bruce Arians if someone asked for a recommendation: “We talked about that, last time putting the (halt) on him, put the kibosh on him. We won’t get into those right now. We will just use social media. We will get on the Internet. Just like they do around draft time with all the players, all the baggage starts to come out. We won’t do it here. We will just wait until later this evening, the next couple of weeks and start putting all that stuff out if it get serious.”
In the NFL coaching carousel, Bruce Arians is currently the prettiest girl at the party, so to speak (maybe not the best metaphor). He’s bound to be a top candidate somewhere, but seeing Pagano and Luck making jokes about slandering him to keep him in Indy shows how badly they want BA to come back to work on West 56th Street, across from Eagle Creek Park this April. It also shows how close these players and coaches are after just one season together.
Lastly, Pat McAfee offers some very powerful perspective on what we’ve all witnessed from the 2012 Colts and their affable coach: “I think this year has taught us all a lot of valuable lessons as players and as humans. To watch a coach fight for his life, come back and beat it and come on the sideline was so inspirational for us all. Not only outside the building, everyone is talking about how inspirational it was for them, but inside the building as well. We were a young team that came together quickly as a family. We accomplished a lot of things that not a lot of people outside this room thought we could accomplish. We set quite a foundation for years in the future. It was an amazing ride to be a part of.”
This may be our last Colts Notebook for a while (though I may have enough to do another tomorrow). In the meantime, happy offseason to everyone. I have truly enjoyed all your comments and input this season.
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